CHICAGO — Jordan Reed was one of the final Washington Redskins players to exit the Soldier Field visiting locker room. Before he had an opportunity to take off his shoulder pads, he was swarmed for media interviews. A plethora of Redskins players and coaches stopped to give the tight end props before walking toward the team bus.
Heck, Reed played so well that even an NFL uniform official congratulated him following the 24-21 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday. As has been the case often this season, No. 86 was the main catalyst in a Redskins win. He produced his best game of the year, catching all nine passes thrown his way for 120 yards and a touchdown. It’s the third time in Reed’s career that he’s eclipsed 100 receiving yards.
“As I’ve said before, and said every week, I don’t know nobody who can guard that young man,” left tackle Trent Williams said. “When he’s on, he’s on and it’s tough to stop. I think he’s definitely the best receiving tight end in the NFL, hands down. I think he’s having a Pro Bowl year.”
Chicago was fooled on just about every jab step and head fake while attempting to cover Reed, who emphasized his footwork this week in practice. He noticed on video that the Bears had a tendency to bite on a receiver’s first move and added an extra stick on his routes. It clearly worked. Reed gained not only separation but yards after his catches. Five of Reed’s nine receptions went for more than 10 yards, including a 32-yard catch in the third quarter. Reed hesitated on the top of his route before breaking inside over the middle to a gain a huge chunk after the reception.
“I was just creating a lot of separation with my routes, and Kirk [Cousins] was hitting me in stride so I could run after the catch,” Reed said. “. . . I try to feel the guy’s leverage and see if he’s going to bite or not. Then I try to take advantage of it.”
Reed bailed the offense out near the end zone on a five-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter. Before the play, the Redskins received a delay-of-game penalty with personnel issues coming off a timeout in a third-and-goal situation at the 1-yard line. The Redskins dialed up a slant route for Reed, which has been almost unstoppable near the goal line this year, but they changed the play design. Reed lined up on the outside of a three-receiver alignment to the left of the formation rather than being the isolated wide receiver on the opposite side. He weaved through three defenders to get open, making a tough grab on a nice throw from Cousins.
“This week it was a different kind of slant, and it was going to take a little longer,” Reed said. “The coaches said all week that I just need to keep running no matter how many defenders were in there.”
The Bears had a difficult time tackling Reed as well. On a 17-yard reception during the opening possession, Reed bounced off four Bears defenders after the catch and landed inches shy of the end zone. The Redskins were able to land the first blow on a drive that went for a season-high 15 plays. Washington marched 80 yards down the field in 8 minutes 30 seconds, and Reed set the tone with three receptions for 35 yards.
“When Jordan Reed is clicking like that — he’s angry, he’s finishing downhill, breaking tackles — he’s hard to stop,” running back Matt Jones said. “. . . It translates and everybody picks up off his energy. I’m trying to get where he’s at and his level. When he’s looking at me in the huddle, and he’s saying, ‘Let’s go.’ I see it in his eyes, and I’m like, ‘Wow. I know what level you’re on, so it’s time to get going.’ ”
Reed has been the most effective offensive weapon for the Redskins this season, and he even capped this day without a penalty; he’d committed 10 that have been accepted this season. He’s remained fairly healthy, tying a career high with 11 regular season games played with three more to go, and proved once again why he’s a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses.
“You don’t know no linebacker that can cover him,” defensive end Ricky Jean Francois said. “You don’t know no [defensive back] that can body him. When you’ve got him one-on-one, or even three-on-one, he’s still going to make those incredible plays — jumping on top of people, laying his body out.
“I think he’s up there with one of the elite tight ends. When you throw that ball to him, you don’t have to hold your breath. You just know something spectacular is going to happen.”
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